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Caroline Estes and Lysbeth Borie

Caroline Estes
Caroline Estes has been living, teaching, and facilitating the consensus method of decision making since becoming a Quaker more than 40 years ago. She used the training and experience of Quaker business meetings to expand and develop the use of consensus with secular groups, such as regional and national bioregional congresses and the Greens' national conferences. As far back as the mid-1960s, Caroline was an informal consultant to peace and social action groups in the San Francisco Bay Area. During her years with the American Friends Service Committee in Philadelphia, Caroline refined her understanding and use of consensus so that when she returned to the West Coast in 1972 as a founding member of Alpha Farm, she was able to help guide the intentional community into a consensual form of governance.

Caroline's belief is that consensus is an appropriate form of decision making for our age, and that it is often misused. As a result, she began teaching consensus to the groups she facilitated. Caroline brought with her the history and structure of the Quaker model, and taught struggling groups how to use consensus effectively. These informal gatherings at meetings led to people asking Caroline to teach consensus and facilitation in more formal venues.

Since 1987, Caroline has taught five-day residential consensus and facilitation workshops, hosted at Alpha Farm or nearby conference centers. People have come from all over the U.S. and Canada to learn about this decision-making process. Caroline also has offered public and in-house workshops of various lengths all over North America. This manner of teaching has proved to be invaluable for the participants. Individuals learn the decision-making method, and, in workshops of two days or longer, they are able to practice the process using issues relevant to their own com-munities. Because learning consensus is experiential as well as cognitive, role playing with relevant issues manifests learning with meaning. As an example, in 1994 alone Caroline taught workshops in Boulder, Denver and Taos, as well as in British Columbia, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Michigan. These work-shops have led to the formation of facilitation guilds in Boulder and Denver that strive to teach consensus to others. Caroline acts as a consultant for these guilds.

During the 1980s and early '90s, Caroline facilitated many large gatherings of political groups. Meetings such as the national Greens conferences and the North American Bioregional Congresses were 200 to 400 people coming together from regional groups to attempt to draft national policy and action for political change. The individuals attending were idealistic and passionate, with definite opinions about how to effect political change. Caroline facilitated the groups to draft national agendas that the whole group could agree to, as well as action plans to effect the policies.

As a founding member of Alpha Farm since 1972, Caroline has been committed to supporting the growth, development, and stability of secular intentional communities. The Fellowship for Intentional Community is the national organization dedicated to these goals, and Caroline has been an influential member of the board since the mid-1980s. She is past president of the Fellowship, and often acts as a spokesperson for community ideals and values.

Lysbeth Borie
Lysbeth Borie's facilitation and workshop teaching grows from 25 years' experience with the consensus process, including more than 10 years of daily practice in community at Alpha Farm and extensive teamwork and study with Caroline Estes, one of North America's leading consensus facilitators.

Lysbeth has facilitated and taught the process as a consultant since 1988. She has worked with a variety of groups, including:

  • Salem, Oregon, City Council
  • Family Community Leadership Program,
    Oregon State University
    Extension Service (Corvallis, Oregon) statewide advanced training
  • Waldorf schools
    Georgia, Oregon, Wisconsin, California and elsewhere
  • Confederated Tribes -- Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon

Lysbeth's facilitation and teaching are enlivened by her human gifts and experiences. A warm, open heart and experience as a peer counselor help her to listen with compassion. A background as a writer and journalist gives her clarity of thought and a powerful precision of language in facilitation and minute-taking. And her gift for synthesizing ideas helps groups to find their common ground.

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